Obama Reverses Abortion 'Gag Rule'

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President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday ending any restrictions on federally funding international groups that promote or perform abortions.

The order reverses the global ban that was reinstated under the previous administration.

Bishop Harry Jackson, with the High Impact Leadership Coalition, disagrees with the Obama's policy reversal. Click play to hear more, following this report.

Obama signed the order at a low-key event, just one day after the 36th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. It is one in a series of executive orders signed by Obama this week that reverses Bush administration policies.

Global Gag Rule

The policy, known as the 'global gag rule,' bans U.S. taxpayer money from being distributed to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling, or referrals about abortion.

Federal restrictions on funding abortions globally has become a presidential back and forth for the past 25 years, with each new administration backing or reversing the policy.

President Ronald Reagan established the ban at a population conference in Mexico City in 1984, which is why some refer to the ban as the 'Mexico City policy." President Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but President George W. Bush reinstated it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.

Pro-Life Groups Disappointed

Pro-life organizations wasted no time telling of their disappointment with the reversal of policy.

"President Obama not long ago told the American people that he would support policies to reduce abortions, but today he is effectively guaranteeing more abortions by funding groups that promote abortion as a method of population control," Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee told Fox News.

Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says the policy hasn't reduced U.S. aid for family planning by a single dime. He says it has simply redirected it to groups that forswear abortion-related activities.

"You can't reduce abortions by promoting abortions," Doerflinger told National Public Radio on Thursday.

"Let's keep it centered on family planning," he said. "And an organization that takes the money to do family planning in developing nations will agree not to perform and promote abortion as a family-planning method - and the vast majority of organizations have been able to sign that pledge."

Pro-Choice Advocates Jubilant

Pro-choice organizations were jubilant about the policy change.

"Women's health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance," said Tod Preston, a spokesman for Population Action International, an advocacy group.

"President Obama's actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning," he explained.

Sources: The Associated Press, National Public Radio, National Catholic Reporter, Fox News.

*Originally posted January 23, 2009

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